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Arts in Review

Haute Stuff: Lingerie as a fashion statement

Throughout the years, great care has been put into the careful selection and wearing of the right piece of lingerie. It’s a garment that is beautiful, private and in possession of a certain decadence or opulence that is often missing from outerwear these days.

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By Leanna Pankratz (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: June 20, 2012

Perhaps the most personal of all women’s garments, few articles of clothing inspire so many winks, nudges and blushes as lingerie. Lingerie has been used for centuries as sleepwear and underwear – to see even a hint of a lady’s stocking, in the Victorian years, was appallingly intimate and was to be reserved only for her husband.

Throughout the years, great care has been put into the careful selection and wearing of the right piece of lingerie. It’s a garment that is beautiful, private and in possession of a certain decadence or opulence that is often missing from outerwear these days. It’s like an art that hasn’t died.

The key to looking lovely or desirable in any undergarment is to (and I know this sounds cliché, but it’s true) wear it with confidence. There is perhaps no sartorial image less stirring, in fact, than a women slouching, embarrassed, looking uncomfortably bared in her sheer, black negligee. See what I mean? If that same black negligee makes another lady feel like a feline seductress, who can wear it as powerfully as the muse it was potentially designed for, then the lingerie has been successful, and the correct image has been attained.

The trick is finding a style, colour or fabric that both suits you and that you feel comfortable in. Simply put: if you hate lace, don’t wear it! There are so many different types of lingerie one can buy, designed for each of the ways one can feel stirred in the bedroom. There are frilly, cutesy “babydoll” nighties, garters and stockings (lovely in black), silky robes that skim the body perfectly, and the easily accessible boy shorts and tank top combination, which is comfortable and casually sexy.

While I’m personally a fan of Victoria’s Secret for all things nightwear, you really can’t go wrong with the more local Sevenoaks-available options like La Vie En Rose, which boasts a wide array of stockings, garters and playful, sheer negligees, and La Senza, which along with the usual array of sexy silks, also has a whole lot of cute, fuzzy pajamas and terry cloth shorts that while perhaps not overly seductive or enticing, make for some pretty comfortable sleepwear (because, really, who can wear a garter belt every night?).

For those who enjoy the thrill of old world opulence and artifice, Lace Embrace Atelier in Vancouver specializes in authentic Burlesque and Victorian inspired corsets that, while priced fairly high, are custom-fitted, and on a girl who loves that style, would look wonderful.

The search for the right set of lingerie is very personal, ideally shared between a woman and her lover. It should be catered to the exacting tastes of a particular couple and chosen by the woman with great care and attention to what makes her feel confident, seductive and feminine. It would be advised to definitely try a piece on before you buy it. There’s nothing worse than being hindered by something that’s too tight or restricting.

While lingerie is not limited to use with a partner (In fact I commend women—and let’s not forget brave men—who decadently wear their beautiful night clothes on their own. Empowering!), there is no doubt that when faced with a partner while wearing a beautiful set of silk and lace, there is perhaps one inevitable activity in mind. As ’20s humourist Dorothy Parker wrote in her book Enough Rope, “The core value of lingerie is brevity – it will last five minutes at most.”

Unfortunately, your gorgeous new set of nightwear is not going to last very long, and the purpose of elaborate lingerie is one that definitely echoes the old world sentiment of portraying yourself as feminine – as something lovely to look at because it matters what your partner thinks, and your own experience will be heightened all the more for it.

You’re creating an experience: a spritz of perfume, tousled hair and you’re ready for whatever activity the evening has to offer. I look at lingerie as a bit of an investment – if time and care, and perhaps some money is put in, you certainly will get your dime’s worth.

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